Lost and Found: The theme park edition
We were seizing every bit of every day and every dollar. Until. Until I wasn’t. Until the whole merry vacation came to a screeching halt for me and I barely knew up from down. A couple of other words about me. I have a bad history with whiplash so I don’t ride roller coasters. I hold everyone’s gear and meet them at the exit of the ride. I also have a terrible sense of direction. So maybe it wasn’t the best choice when my family got on the Manta roller coaster for me to take a detour before heading directly to the coaster exit. You see I had gotten a perk with our package. A free “cup that cares.” I was thinking this meant a refillable cup we could use throughout the park. It was getting hot and I was thirsty so I thought I would grab one of these “cups that care” while the family was on the ride. Off I go to the nearest drink station who sent me to the nearest gift shop who sent me to guest relations. It turns out having a free perk is complicated. When I finally got the ticket for the “cup that cares” that had to be redeemed in the penguin gift shop (the penguin shop?), I was totally turned around. I scanned around and tried to see where the coaster exit was, but no luck. I got a little anxious and started asking everyone around me where the coaster exited. No luck there either. I walked and I walked. The more nervous I got the faster I walked. Finally I asked a park employee where the coaster exit was and he gave me directions. Straight ahead and then take a right. Soon I found myself in the shark area. I asked more people where the exit for the coaster was and they pointed the way. Finally I found myself at the gift shop exit for the Mako coaster. I looked around the area. No family. Surely they would be coming off the ride soon. I plopped our packs down and waited on a bench just outside the gift shop. Five minutes passed. Then ten. My family had ridden using the Quick Que so counting the time I was lost plus the time I had been waiting, I felt like they should have been off by now. Had I missed them? Had they left the exit and moved on without me? My nervousness turned to panic. I tried to stay calm and think of a solution. I had all the cell phones on me. We had made no emergency “if you get lost” plan. Did the park have a station for lost mommies? I began asking everyone I could stop “Excuse me, have you seen a Dad with a man-bun, a Chinese girl, and a boy in an orange shirt?” At least my family stands out in the crowd. I went back into the gift shop and asked an employee to help me look back through the pictures of the coaster riders. If I could find my family and see what time they exited maybe that would help. After looking through an hour of riders my unique and brightly colored family was nowhere to be seen. Now my panic shifted. Had my daughter gotten scared to ride and gone back to look for me. Was she lost? Had someone gotten hurt? As my mind raced and my heart pounded all I could think to do was “Hug a Tree”. I decided the gift shop would be my tree. Hopefully my three family members working together would find me. A half an hour after I started looking for my family one of the cell phones rang. At the other end of a strange number came the voice of my husband, “Sweetie? Where are you?” “I’m at the exit.” I whimpered. “But we’re at the exit and we don’t see you. Where are you?” For a split second I worried I had crossed over into Stranger Thing’s upside down or fell through some Marvel like portal into an alternate universe. All I could do was read him the sign over the door. “Mako Exit.” “Honey, we rode the Manta. Why are you at the Mako?” “I don’t know.” I barely got the words out as I began to cry. Fear and confusion had so warped my perception I never even noticed I was at the wrong coaster. “Don’t worry sweetie. Just stay there. We are coming to you.” I wiped my tears and headed back to my bench. I wanted to be able to see my family from whatever direction they might come from. After a few minutes I saw them walking up. At first I couldn’t stop waving at them. Then I began to run to meet them. When I reached them I just fell into my husbands arms and sobbed. He patted my hair for a while and told me everything was okay. They had me now.